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The original radioactively mutated, giant lizard is back in all his flame-snorting, city-stomping glory - bigger, better and badder than ever before! An earth-shattering explosion rocks the French Polynesian Islands, and a nearby supertanker is swiftly and inexplicably destroyed. Was an explosion — or something far more horrifying — responsible for the devastation? The giant footsteps trailing from the wreckage seem to provide the answer. Soon the newly awakened monster is leaving a mysterious trail of carnage in its wake as it cuts through miles of Panamanian forests, heading directly to a small, densely populated island... Manhattan. It's up to two teams of investigators, each with their own agenda - headed by nuclear scientist Nick Tatapoulos and aspiring reporter Audrey Timmonds - to band together to discover the secret of Godzilla ...and determine the only way to stop him.
For more about Godzilla and the Godzilla Blu-ray release, see Godzilla Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 8, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, Kevin Dunn, Harry Shearer
Director: Roland Emmerich
» See full cast & crew
Godzilla Blu-ray Review
Now, "loud" looks great, too.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 8, 2013
All the king's horses and all the king's men may not be able to put the Big Apple together again.
Only one word can adequately describe Director Roland Emmerich's Disaster movies: "spectacle." Love his movies or despise them, Emmerich's pictures never fail to provide the latest in visual and sound technology; big action sequences; massive destruction of landmarks; lots of noise; and most importantly, a popcorn-munching good time. Whether Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, or Godzilla, Emmerich strives not for Shakespearean poetry in his dialogue or Hitchcockian visuals to accentuate mood and atmosphere; instead, he goes for the jugular, bombarding the visual and aural senses with an onslaught of effects-laden visuals and sound combined with corny dialogue and over-the-top plot lines and devices, and that's just fine. Escapist entertainment is just as important as film-as-high-art, and nobody fills that niche better than Roland Emmerich.
Scientist Niko Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick, Glory) is recalled from Chernobyl to study large and mysterious footprints in both Panama and Jamaica, while simultaneously comparing notes against the choppy accounts that claim a large creature known as "Godzilla" has been capsizing fishing boats around the world. Before he can offer anything but conjecture, "Godzilla" -- a stories-tall creature that resembles a dinosaur -- rudely emerges from the waters off of New York City and promptly lays waste to the Big Apple. With the city under threat of total annihilation, Tatopoulos is flown in to work in conjunction with the U.S. military to stop the creature before it's too late. Meanwhile, Tatopoulos' ex-girlfriend, Audrey (Maria Pitillo), a city reporter looking for her big break, rekindles her relationship with Niko but must choose between her man or her career, a decision that could impact the fate of both the city and the world.
Among Director Roland Emmerich's Disaster pictures, Godzilla may very well be the worst, but it's still not a bad picture based solely on what it sets out to accomplish. Needless to say, a paltry story doesn't help, but the film's highly generalized wave of destruction has a "been there, done that" feel to it, even if it does play as bigger, better, and louder than any of the Godzilla films before it. Fortunately, the film's downfall is also its saving grace. The story -- good, bad, or indifferent -- is completely irrelevant when it comes to a movie like Godzilla. The 139-minute movie, whittled down to one line ("monster ravages New York City"), can get away with shallow characters, poor dialogue, stretched logic, useless humor, and worthless background information because they simply can't -- and don't have to -- compete with the spectacle of a creature laying waste to the city's landmarks in rapid succession. The plot need only be strong enough to get the movie from one disaster scene to the next, and in that regard, Godzilla succeeds.
Nevertheless, Godzilla serves up a few extras meant to compliment the onslaught of destruction and lighten the load throughout, and as one might expect, there are both hits and misses scattered throughout the film. Godzilla sets up two characters solely to poke fun at film critic Roger Ebert and his late companion, Gene Siskel, in what is easily the film's most groan-inducing plot line. It fares little better than something out of Disaster Movie, and it's about as sophomoric, too. In a film where absolutely everything is contrived, the "Mayor Ebert" plot line is the worst offender. On the other hand, Godzilla features a nice little homage to Creature Disaster pictures of the past with a clip from It Came From Beneath the Sea playing on a television set. Small nuances like that add a nice touch and reward genre fans, and it's one moment where Godzilla will have lovers and haters alike smiling at the attention to detail and respect for the genre.
While words like "worst," "paltry," and "contrived" might make it sound like Godzilla is a terrible movie, it's important to analyze a film like this in context and give credit where credit it due. As alluded to before, Roland Emmerich films don't set out to win Oscars (except, perhaps, for sound design and special effects), so it's unfair to directly compare them to something they don't strive to compete with. On its own merits, Godzilla makes for a decent enough popcorn-crunching good time at the movies. It's no Independence Day, but the film's effects-heavy visuals and devastating sound design do a marvelous job of capturing the intended spirit of the film. Simply stated, Godzilla is an amusement park ride come to life on the big screen and a fine example of escapism entertainment that relies on grandiose technical achievements to wow audiences. Though its effects might look dated some fifteen years after its theatrical release, Godzilla's sound design remains impressive, and together, they make the movie a fun ride for those willing to suspend disbelief and give it a chance.
Godzilla Blu-ray, Video Quality
Sony's commitment to releasing the finest Blu-ray products is evident with every spin of a Sony-branded disc. The consistency of product -- from the latest blockbusters to the most cherished classic titles from years gone by -- is arguably tops in the entire industry, and why shouldn't it be; Sony was a lead Blu-ray design and advocacy outfit, its PlayStation 3 console offered disc playback and instant wide format adoption, and the first wave of titles released back in 2006 bore the Sony label on the spine. Since then, and through a few growing pains and spurts -- a bloody format war, a misstep or two, the transition from Dolby TrueHD to DTS-HD Master Audio -- the studio has emerged as the most trustworthy in the industry when it comes to its Blu-ray product. When it says Sony, chances are extremely high that the movie is going to look (and sound) about as good as the format allows. Now, Sony is recalling the days of its "Superbit" DVD releases with the emergence of "Mastered in 4K" (*) Blu-ray discs. The new transfers are sourced from 4K masters but here's where the giant asterisk comes in: they're then downscaled to standard Blu-ray 1080p resolution. That means buyers can enjoy them on their regular old Blu-ray players and their regular old HDTVs -- no fancy new hardware required. The downside is that viewers aren't really seeing the material in 4K; even those who shell out the large sum of cash for a new 4K TV will be treated only to an upscaled presentation, much the same way today's regular old TV/playback 1080p device combos upscale standard definition DVDs.
Watching the "Mastered in 4K" transfer in 1080p does yield some benefits over the standard 1080p Blu-ray releases, even if it's not a true 4K experience. The discs take advantage of a significantly higher bitrate than regular old Blu-ray discs, meaning more muscle to produce the finest picture quality, revealing superior details and showcasing that perfect cinematic, pleasing grain texturing for pictures photographed on film and more accuracy for those photographed in the wholly digital realm. "Mastered in 4K" discs also promise superior color balance and accuracy, reproducing a more faithful-to-the-source palette that will reveal the sort of natural shading and subtle nuance even the best of 1080p Blu-ray cannot match. More, Sony promises enhanced viewing on its own line of 4K TVs thanks to a proprietary upscaling algorithm that's designed to squeeze the most out of the "Mastered in 4K" line of Sony discs, above and beyond what any competitor's display can offer. Makes sense considering some branch of Sony is at work along every step of the process. Unfortunately, one of Sony's shiny new 4K televisions was not available for review purposes, but suffice it to say that either of the launch displays -- the 55" and 65" XBR-labeled sets -- will undoubtedly offer the best consumer viewing picture to date, whether joined with a Sony "Mastered in 4K" disc or a regular old Blu-ray from any studio.
Godzilla might not be the first movie to spring to mind when thinking of films that would benefit from a "Mastered in 4K" presentation. Something with a significantly wider and brighter array of colors -- like Spider-Man 2 -- would seem to be the greatest beneficiary of the process. Godzilla is an undeniably dark, dark, dark film that takes place, primarily, at night and under constant rainfall. Is there much room to squeeze out a better picture -- slightly better, moderately better, significantly better than the older release from a few years ago? The answer is "yes." Godzilla looks terrific, boasting an exceptional film-like texturing. Light grain remains throughout the entirety. Fine details are accentuated and very well defined. Clothing and facial lines reveal the most insignificant textures. Image clarity is excellent, looking only a little bit soft around various special effects shots. Image stability, otherwise, proves excellent. It boasts a wonderful cinematic texture, boosted by a well-defined color palette, limited though it may be in the film's latter stages and especially beyond the early Tahiti sequence where the image finds its boldest colors. Even under the darkness, the shades of blue and gray look incredible, with the occasional splash of yellow from a city cab or green military camouflage thrown in for good measure. Even in the middle ground -- the warmly lit television station or diner interiors that aren't as bold as Tahiti and nowhere near as dark as nighttime exteriors -- find a very nice lighting-influenced balance and still capture that excellent, crisp, film-like detail that runs deeply through the film. Godzilla looks fantastic in 4K. It's one of the best of the bunch, so far.
Godzilla Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Godzilla stomps onto Blu-ray with a hard-hitting DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Want volume? Godzilla's got volume. Want bass? Godzilla's got bass -- enough to shake the house down. This is the sort of soundtrack that defies description and is much better experienced first hand than read about second hand, but suffice it to say, this is a devastating, room-shaking, speaker-blowing, brain-scrambling soundtrack. Even at more than 10 years old, Godzilla is still one of the standard-bearers for ridiculously aggressive, terribly powerful, yet crystal-clear and highly entertaining sound mixes. Early in the film, thunder and rain explode through the soundstage, and from the monster's first attack on a fishing vessel onward, there's no mistaking that this is anything but a surround sound and bass-happy extravaganza. It seems almost pointless to mention specifics, because this one rarely lets up in its ability to create a large and seamless sense of space, make fantastic use of the surround channels, and deliver consistently tight and devastating bass. The subtle downpour that accentuates most every exterior scene, the reverberating thuds as the creature stomps through the city, the din of heavy artillery and gunfire, or Godzilla's deafening screams travel through the soundstage and into the ear drums to almost punishing effect. This may be too much for some listeners at reference volume, but a slight decrease in volume doesn't too terribly adversely affect the quality of the listen. Also featuring solid dialogue reproduction that doesn't really become muffled or lost under the rain and bass, Godzilla makes for a so-loud-it's-silly listen on Blu-ray.
Godzilla Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This 4K Blu-ray release of Godzilla contains no supplements. A UV digital copy code is, however, included in the case.
Godzilla Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
They don't come much bigger and louder than Godzilla. Though not the special effects spectacle it once was, Roland Emmerich's Creature Disaster movie remains a severely flawed but thoroughly entertaining popcorn movie that might be the sort of thing that's nominated for Razzie awards (several, in fact) but it's also the sort of thing people go to see in droves. At the end of the day, it's just fine for what it is and wants to be, and in that light, Godzilla is a success on its own playing field. For pure picture and sound quality, this is the definitive Godzilla and a top-notch reference-quality disc. Recommended.
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